How to Choose And Buy a Good Palette
Almost all choices in a creative environment such as the art world come down to personal preference. Choosing a
palette is no exception.
If you’re wondering how to choose a palette, you need to consider things like the size you’ll need and if a
quick cleanup is important to you.
Some palettes are meant to sit on a tabletop and some have a thumbhole so that you can safely hold them in your
hand while working.
Some are totally flat, and others have small indents to mix each color of paint in (though the latter isn’t
usually preferred by experienced artists). You’ll also need to decide what material you want your palette made out
Here are some of the most common options for palette materials and oil paint supplies.
Glass palettes are nice because they provide one of the smoothest surfaces to work on and are a cinch to clean.
Paint will never get embedded in a glass palette, no matter how hard you rub it in. However, if you’re prone to
accidents, a regular glass palette may not be the best choice for you, as a small nudge off the table will quickly
transform your palette into a thousand shards of sharp glass, and all of your colors will be lost.
Instead, you can try a safety glass palette, which is increasing in popularity. It has all the same properties
as a glass palette (smooth, simple to clean, easy on your brushes) but won’t shatter if broken.
Wooden palettes are not as popular with artists today as they are a bit more difficult to clean and prepare. The
wood must usually be oiled before and after using, and the palette must be cleaned immediately after you’re
finished, or else the paints will dig in and be really difficult to clean.
However, it does have the novelty of being the older, traditional palette of past masters, so if that appeals to
you, by all means go for a wooden palette.
The Makeshift Palette
Many artists choose to use some other repurposed item as their palette. Some of them offer the convenience of
being disposable: paper plates and Styrofoam trays that food comes packaged in are two options.
Glass materials are often favorable because they are easily wiped and durable: plates, glass from an old picture
frame, and pieces of tile are among the common choices. Freezer and butcher’s paper are also good options if you
need a lot of space. You can tape the paper down to a table and have a huge surface to mix paints on that is both
easy to wipe off and disposable.
Even something as simple as an old magazine you have laying around can be turned into a makeshift palette. When
it comes to these palettes, the assortment of items used is as varied as the artists themselves.
Disposable Paper Palette
These palettes are essentially a pad of coated paper. They can be placed over nearly anything (a tabletop, a
plate, another palette) in order for you to mix paints, and are designed to be thrown away after use. They come in
a variety of sizes and some even have thumbholes cut out already so that they can fit over the thumbhole in another
Whatever your preferences, when thinking about how to choose a palette, it’s comforting to know that the large
variety available virtually guarantees you’ll find something you like. Good luck in your oil painting lessons!
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